Austal USA has officially launched the US Navy’s newest Independence-class littoral combat ship (LCS), the future USS Augusta (LCS 34).

The newly launched ship is the 17th of 19 Independence-variant LCSs that are being developed by Austal at its shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, US.

During the multi-step launch process, the new 2,500mt-ship was lifted about 3ft above the ground to transfer it to a deck barge and then to a floating dry dock, where the LCS entered the water for the first time.

Austal USA new construction vice-president Dave Growden said: “We’re proud to announce another successful milestone achievement for the LCS programme at Austal USA.

“Austal USA’s team of talented shipbuilders are excited to have another LCS in the water and are looking forward to delivering her to the navy so she can join her sister ships in the Pacific fleet.”

Following the launch, Augusta was moved out of the company’s floating dry dock to the pier side on the waterfront with the help of tugs.

At the pier side, Austal USA will commission machinery and activate other systems of the ship to prepare it for the sea trials, which are expected to begin later this year.

Currently, Austal USA is working on five Independence-variant LCS, which are under different stages of construction.

The company has recently started constructing the Independence-variant future USS Kingsville (LCS 36).

Furthermore, the company is also building the US Navy’s four expeditionary fast transport ships and will start work on Navajo-class Towing, Salvage and Rescue Ships this summer.

The littoral combat ships are fast and mission-focused platforms, capable of operating in near-shore environments and performing various missions including deterrence, forward presence, maritime security and sea control.